Although those evil growths start off small, the searing pain they bring makes heel spurs well-known. There’s not a lot you can do for them, but insoles can help prevent and deal with current heel spurs.
We’re going to examine the best insoles for heel spurs to hopefully give you an easier time in your shoes. We’ll also give you other ways to help prevent the torturous time they bring.
Our Top 5 Picks of the Best Insoles for Heel Spurs
Heel Spurs: What Are They?
Heel spurs are a growth that feels bony and is usually small. They’re made of calcium and can continue growing for years, even becoming quite large in severe cases. You may also hear them called calcaneal spurs due to their make-up.
As you can’t find heel spurs through an x-ray, you often won’t know what’s causing your pain or the strange sensation. Once they reach a large enough size, though, you’ll almost definitely know what’s growing there.
The spurs eventually become pointed, or worse, hooked. This starts on your heel bone and can extend all the way into your arch. When large enough, standing on the spur makes it press into your heel’s fatty tissue resulting in a stabbing pain with every step.
As calcium is hard, the stabbing pain is more than a sensation—you are literally stabbing your heel’s fatty tissue when you walk.
Heel Spurs: The Cause
So, where does the horror show come from?
Nobody knows exactly why heel spurs occur, but some doctors theorize that it has something to do with the cause. Heel spurs crop up in many plantar fasciitis sufferers. One study shows that 80 percent of people with heel spurs also have plantar fasciitis.
Because of this, the theory stands that the spurs grow to protect parts of the foot, including the plantar fascia. Unfortunately, the body seems to do a contradictory job with the protection.
Alongside having plantar fasciitis, there are some other factors that put you at a higher risk of heel spurs: gender and age.
Studies reveal that if you’re over 40 you have a higher chance of developing heel spurs. You’re also more at risk if you’re female based on what research says. Doctors don’t know exactly why these two genetic factors can increase your chances of developing heel spurs.
Outside of age and gender, your other risk factors are all easily fixable. Considering the theory says heel spurs are away to protect your feet, then keeping your feet in shape should help prevent them.
If you have pronation issues, flat feet or are simply wearing the incorrect shoe size, you may start developing heel spurs—anything that puts your feet under pressure.
Heel Spurs: How Insoles Can Help
Based on those observations, insoles can help by taking the strain off of your feet. First of all, make sure you’re wearing shoes that fit. From there, you’re fine to find insoles that can help you out.
Insoles can support your arches and cradle your heels, which keeps your feet still and unburdened when you walk. However, insoles can only work for heel spurs if you select the right ones. Let’s examine how you do that.
Finding the Best Insoles for Heel Spurs
There are a few key things to look for in any insole—but they become more important when you’re getting them for a specific issue or to prevent one cropping up.
Heel cups are incredibly important here, for preventing as well as supporting heel spurs. You want a deep heel cup with sides that support you. A less prominent heel cup can work for preventative measures, but we always recommend a deep cup. The deeper, the better.
Arch support is always vital, but supporting your feet is a necessary preventative measure where heel spurs are concerned.
When you already have spurs, supporting your arch correctly can help alleviate the pain.
Your heels and the balls of your feet take the most pressure. As your arches don’t do much at all, it’s best to just support them and try to take the weight off, absorbing shock too. The heel spur grows towards the arch, so avoid irritating it at all costs.
Finding Your Arch Type
To properly support your arch, you should make sure you know your arch type, too. For that, you can perform the wet test. It goes as follows:
- Get a piece of paper or some light-colored concrete.
- Step into a body of water, soaking your foot.
- Take your foot out and step immediately onto the paper or concrete.
Here are the results you can expect:
- High arches: A very thin portion of the footprint is visible, with a large gap between your foot and toe prints.
- Neutral arches: Your footprint will have a small dip in it, almost like the Apple Logo, and a very small or no gap between the foot and toe prints.
- Low arches: Your full foot’s shape will be imprinted on the paper or concrete, with no gap between your foot and toe prints.
Finally, the fit is incredibly important when your insole is for heel spurs. Usually, a little wiggling is okay—it won’t damage you or remove the support. But with heel spurs, once developed, will cause pain with any motion against them. Wiggling is just going to irritate things further.
You want almost a snug fit, perfect width and length-wise, with your insoles. If you want some help determining your foot width, consider checking out what does shoe width letters mean.
Foam—hands down. It’s soft, supportive, and won’t hurt you, most of the time.
There are many materials that make up insoles, from foam to gel to plastic at times—but you want foam if you have heel spurs.
Gel is massaging, comforting, helping take pressure off your feet. It’s fantastic if you’re trying to prevent heel spurs, it can support your feet while making them feel wonderful. But once you have heel spurs, you don’t want gel rubbing them up. That’s just going to cause more pain.
So remember, any material if you’re preventing, but once you have spurs then you want foam. Foam will cushion the blow of each step, making sure your spurs hit something soft every time.
When You Should Switch To Custom Orthotics
Sometimes insoles aren’t enough, and you need something customized by your podiatrist. Consider requesting custom orthotics when:
- Insoles do nothing to alleviate the pain.
- You find your pain is worsening despite support from insoles.
- Insoles were working but have since stopped.
- You can’t find insoles that fit your feet well enough not to wiggle or slip.
You may need these orthotics long-term or possibly until you fix your issue. It may be possible to switch to regular insoles eventually, but it depends on how well your heel spur heals post-removal surgery and how much pain you’re in.
If you’re making the switch from custom orthotics to insoles, we always recommend checking out podiatrist-designed insoles first.
Before you go custom, you may wish to look at some insoles that were designed by podiatrists. This way, you know they’re tailored to pain relief and helping pronation issues.
Of all the insoles here, The Original Samurai Insoles were designed by podiatrists, and users report they work well. They may tide you over until you have the funds, time or access to consult a podiatrist for your custom orthotic.
We recommend striving to get custom orthotics as quickly as possible if the issue is serious, though. While insoles may help short-term, it’s not with the risk of damaging your feet further or putting yourself through pain for the sake of saving some time and money.
Reviews of the Best Insoles for Heel Spurs
We’re starting off with an insole that’s less about padding and more about support. It’s rigid, so it holds its shape well, ensuring your foot stays in that supportive position all day.
The heel cup is deep, so it keeps that part of your foot stable, and the arch support is best for neutral arches. It keeps them raised and has support at the sides as well as underneath.
Meanwhile, your toes, which need the least support, have a large, flat area to lie on and wriggle. This ensures you won’t feel trapped in your insoles, so long as your shoes have enough wiggle room for you, too.
Luckily these insoles should fit in most shoes without a pointed toe area, from sandals to athletic shoes. This makes them a wonderfully versatile pick.
Customers praise their versatility and adore the support these insoles provide. They’ve used them in all manner of shoes and prefer them above several other types of insole. That said, they’re not great if you have a job that requires standing all day.
People on 8-hour work shifts found that by the end of it they were in some pain. We recommend insoles with more padding if that’s your situation too. If not, then these should be fine to take some of the weight off your heel spurs or stop them from developing.
- Highly supportive.
- Fits most shoes, versatile.
- Lots of wiggle room for your toes.
- Not a lot of padding.
- They don’t work well for long work days on your feet.
Here are some insoles for if you want more cushioning, and you need support for flat feet. The arch support isn’t quite as extreme as it is in the Birko insoles—but there’s some pronation correction to make up for it.
These insoles are not only made to support your feet and relieve pressure, but they’re designed to keep your low arches in the right position for a healthy gait.
Alongside that arch support, there’s a heel cup that can keep you stable, helping you prevent heel spurs. It’s deep enough to help alleviate pain from existing ones, too—that, paired with the cushioned arch support, should be of great help.
You also have a wide, flat area for your toes to rest and wiggle to ensure you have plenty of freedom in whatever shoes you choose.
If you worry that the insoles won’t be good enough to relieve and prevent pain relief, worry no more. They’re podiatrist-designed, so you know the experts had their say and vouch for the insoles’ function.
Customers also feel they work well, although some were disappointed at how thin the foam is. The main orthotic is plastic, and the foam covers it—some people expected pure foam.
On the bright side, being so thin means these insoles can fit into most shoes. Once it’s in, it works, and one user reports that it cleared up their father’s plantar fasciitis.
You’ll have to replace them regularly, though. Users report that these insoles have a lifespan of 3–5 months. After that, the material starts coming off.
- Designed by podiatrists.
- Users report the insoles helped clear up pre-existing foot ailments.
- Great support and design for flat feet.
- Short lifespan, about 5 months max.
Here are some insoles for people wanting to prevent heel spurs, not relieve the pain of them. The squishy gel moving around is likely to irritate a pre-existing spur—so use these for comfort and support in advance.
These gel insoles are suitable for all arch types, although users report that they’re not the best for high arches. After support, their main goal is to take pressure off your feet, so they lack a heel cup and don’t have an extreme shape.
For the most part, these are made to cushion the blow of your steps to keep the stress off of your muscles. Keeping stress away is an excellent way to prevent spurs and more. And, as they’re made more for cushioning than shaped support, the insoles are thin enough to fit into almost every shoe, making them highly versatile.
Users like this versatility and find the insoles great for using in boots. They feel they soften up new boots while you’re trying to break them in, and they’re fantastic for hiking.
Most users say they’re best for casual use and not the gym, and that the insoles aren’t super noteworthy. They’re good for comfort and prevention, feel great, but they don’t take away pain.
- Delightfully comfortable.
- Great for boots.
- Support all arch types, but are best for low and neutral arches.
- Not for gym use.
- Won’t do anything for pre-existing heel spurs.
For a combination of support and foam, you have ViveSole. Designed to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis, these insoles can help with a range of foot ailments.
The heel cup isn’t too deep, but it provides enough stability to stop your feet from sliding around in your shoes. Paired with the arch support, you should have much less pressure on that painful spur, and some shock absorption to help minimize the irritation.
Forefoot cushioning is in place to help with that shock and to minimize fatigue. Less fatigue means less stress on your feet, resulting in a more comfortable walk whether you have heel spurs or not.
Despite this cushioning, the insoles remain thin enough to move from shoe to shoe without issue, so they’re versatile. Users liked that aspect of them. The insoles’ flexibility also stood out to users.
Some disappointments presented themselves to customers, too, though. Some users felt that the arch support is too rigid and hard, making the insoles uncomfortable to use. Other users had no such issue, so it’s really a personal thing.
The issue other customers did have was how quickly the foam in these insoles compresses. If you walk like an average person, they’ll last, but for people walking up to 18,000 steps a day? These wear out fast, after only a month.
- Absorb shock.
- Prevent as well as relieve pain from pre-existing heel spurs.
- Extra cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot, where you need it most.
- Wear out in a month if you’re on your feet all day.
- Arch support is too hard for some peoples’ liking.
Here’s another pair of insoles that combine foam and support. The foam is EVA and high quality and has different densities depending on the part of the foot it’s supporting. The thickest foam is in the heel and arch, but there’s some additional cushioning on the ball of the foot, too.
The varying foam thickness is made to help provide support and relieve pain. It’s excellent for your feet to sink down into to prevent or deal with the pain of heel spurs. The insoles are also supposed to be great for other foot ailments, from fallen arches to more serious issues.
While doing that, the foam remains bouncy enough to keep you on your toes. It’s got some rebounce, motivating you to keep waking and hopefully reducing fatigue. The rebounce doesn’t impact the tissues of your feet, so they remain relaxed. It’s the insole that takes the strain of the shock while you move.
Users find the insoles work to varying degrees, however. For some, the insoles only worked for one foot. For others, the insoles worked at the start but then stopped feeling good.
Part of the discomfort comes with the insoles’ inflexible nature. They’re more rigid than other insoles, so they don’t really bend with your foot. They’re more focused on supporting it, which can grow uncomfortable after a while.
For people who enjoyed this, they found the insoles delightful but unfortunately discovered that they wear out fast. Like the ViveSole, people who walk a lot will need to replace these insoles every month.
- Lots of cushioning.
- Shock absorption and targeted support where you need it.
- High-quality, comfortable EVA foam construction.
- Only last a month if you walk a lot.
- They’re not very flexible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Orthotics Help Heel Spurs?
Orthotics can help heel spurs to an extent by supporting the foot and heeling the bulk of the weight off of your arch. This support can help reduce inflammation, but it won’t fix the issue. You’ll want to treat the issue because regardless of the support, every step still has the bone stabbing your soft tissues.
Can You Dissolve Heel Spurs?
You can’t dissolve heel spurs, although there are several exercises and cortisol injection options if you want to heal non-invasively. However, the only cure for heel spurs is surgery. Up until then, orthotics and heel spurs are your best option to keep pain at bay.
Can I Feel a Heel Spur?
You can’t always feel a heel spur, thankfully, and insoles can prevent worsening them to the point where you can. Once you start feeling a heel spur insoles can sometimes help reduce the sensation, but not always.
What Doctor Treats Heel Spurs?
Podiatrists treat heel spurs. If you don’t know any, your regular physician will be able to help you find one. A podiatrist can prescribe custom orthotics instead of insoles, and will be able to organize and perform surgery to remove the spurs.
What Happens if a Heel Spur Goes Untreated?
If you don’t treat heel spurs they can keep growing, and the pain can worsen to the point of complete debilitation. You may not be able to place weight on the foot, even with insoles. As soon as you notice any pain you should try out insoles to alleviate it and add support, and go to a podiatrist.
The best insoles for heel spurs are the Birkenstock Blue Footbed Casual. The heel cups are fantastically deep, and the support extends along the sides of the foot, too. Then that arch support is second to none—it’s high, it’s rigid, and will keep pressure off an ailing arch.
Birkenstocks’ thinness is also a contributing factor to their win—you can fit them in any shoes, making them a versatile pick.